As of Oct. 15, officials in Washington State are easing restrictions in five of the state's 39 counties due to a decrease in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin, and Yakima counties will move to Phase 2, leaving no counties at Modified Phase 1 of the state's economic recovery plan. Other restrictions remain unchanged.

Authorities continue to implement the economic recovery plan under which individual counties are assessed to be at one of four phases, with specific restrictions imposed on local COVID-19 activity. Counties progress from one phase to the next upon meeting certain criteria, including declining COVID-19 activity, decreasing hospitalizations due to COVID-19, and increased contact-tracing and testing. Phase 4 constitutes the highest level of normalization, with Modified Phase 1 representing the lowest. No county is on Phase 4 or Modified Phase 1.

Under Phase 3, nonessential travel may resume; restaurants may offer indoor service at 50-percent capacity and may have up to eight people at a table; alcohol must stop being served at 2300. Movie theaters may operate at 50-percent capacity. Gyms and other indoor recreational facilities may open at 25-percent capacity. Gatherings of more than 10 people are banned, except for wedding and funeral receptions, which can host up to 50 people or 25-percent capacity of the site, whichever is less. Outdoor retail event shows may occur with up to 100 people in attendance. Spiritual or religious services may allow up to 400 people or 50-percent capacity. All other businesses may operate. As of Oct. 15, the counties on Phase 3 are: Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Grays Harbor, Island, Kittitas, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Pend Orielle, Skamania, Stevens, Thurston, Wahkiakum, and Whitman.

Under Phase 2, residents 65 years and older and those with underlying health conditions are urged, but not required, to remain at home except to perform essential tasks. Gatherings of more than five people remain prohibited, except for wedding and funeral services, which may host 30 people. Movie theaters may operate at 25-percent capacity. Outdoor recreational activities are allowed. Manufacturing and construction companies, retail stores, office-based businesses, personal care businesses, libraries, and drive-in movies may open. Gyms may open at 25-percent capacity, and restaurants may offer indoor services at 50-percent capacity with up to six people per table; alcohol must stop being served at 2300. Bars can open for outdoor services only. Religious services may host up to 200 people. As of Oct. 15, the counties under Phase 2 are: Adams, Benton, Chelan, Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Douglas, Franklin, Grant, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Klickitat, Okanogan, Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Walla Walla, Whatcom, and Yakima.

Statewide, live entertainment events remain banned. Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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